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The Field Spaniel is a medium sized spaniel that is closely related to the Cocker Spaniel and the English Springer Spaniel, in fact they were all once seen as one breed but in different sizes. It was bred originally to go out with hunters and bring or retrieve downed gamed from water or land. Today, though it is still a great hunting dog, it is more commonly kept as a show dog or companion. It still loves a good bird flushing but it is also a good therapy dog, and does well at doggy sports such as dock diving, agility, tracking and flyball.
|The Field Spaniel at A Glance|
|Average weight||35 to 50 pounds|
|Average height||16 to 19 inches|
|Life span||12 to 14 years|
|Coat type||Dense, fine, silky, water-repellant, long|
|Color||Black, tan, blue, brown|
|Popularity||Not popular – ranked 150th by the AKC|
|Intelligence||Quite intelligent – above average|
|Tolerance to heat||Very good – can handle warm and even hot climates but not extremes|
|Tolerance to cold||Good – can live in cold climates but nothing very cold or extreme|
|Shedding||Moderate – there will be some hair around the home|
|Drooling||Low – not a breed prone to slobber or drool|
|Obesity||High – prone to weight gain so very important to measure food and give enough exercise|
|Grooming/brushing||Moderate – long coat requires a little extra care but is not as intensive as other spaniel breeds|
|Barking||Occasional to frequent – will need a command to stop|
|Exercise needs||Very active – needs lots of physical and mental stimulation|
|Trainability||Moderately easy – learns well|
|Friendliness||Excellent with socialization|
|Good first dog||Good – new owners can consider this breed but it is best with experienced owners|
|Good family pet||Excellent with socialization|
|Good with children||Excellent with socialization|
|Good with other dogs||Very good with socialization|
|Good with other pets||Good but needs socialization as can have high prey drive|
|Good with strangers||Good but needs socialization as can be shy|
|Good apartment dog||Low – not suited to apartment living, needs space and a yard|
|Handles alone time well||Low – does not like being left alone and can suffer from separation anxiety|
|Health issues||Somewhat healthy – potential issues include cancer, eye problems, ear infections, allergies and AIHA|
|Medical expenses||$460 a year for basic health care and pet insurance|
|Food expenses||$145 a year for dog treats and a good quality dry dog food|
|Miscellaneous expenses||$530 a year for grooming, license, basic training, miscellaneous items and toys|
|Average annual expenses||$1135 as a starting figure|
|Cost to purchase||$1,300|
|Rescue organizations||Several including the Field Spaniel Society of America Rescue|
|Biting Statistics||None reported|
The Field Spaniel’s Beginnings
The Field Spaniel comes from England and its beginnings likely are in the late 1700s across to the early 1800s. It was then thought to be the same breed as the Cocker Spaniel and the Springer Spaniel, all three were seen as just being different sizes. Over 25 pounds was considered to be a Field Spaniel. They were used to flush out bird and animal game from water or land and then to also retrieve the bodies hunters had shot down.
During the mid 1800s breeders began to think about the looks of the breeds not just their function. Because long and low breeds were popular at the time as were all black breeds, breeders of Field Spaniels began to cross them with Sussex Spaniels. The results was a disaster though. For a while the Field Spaniel was an unattractive dog, heavy and hardly able to move at all. But unfortunately they did well in dog shows that were becoming more popular at the same time. This damaged the breed though and its numbers and popularity dropped as hunters stopped using them now that they were no longer practical out in the field.
The average weight of a Field Spaniel by 1909 was up to 35 to 45 pounds, it had too much coat, short legs, was too long and had a large head. More mixing occurred at this time using the Basset Hound. The Field Spaniel developed several genetic health problems at this point and was in serious trouble as a breed if breeders did not take steps to make corrections.
New Lease on Life
Luckily for the breed this fad in Field Spaniel breeding came to an end. After World War I breeders using English Springer Spaniels managed to revitalize the breed bringing back to its original smaller size and bring it back to more proportionate body parts. This also meant it was once again useful as a hunting dog. World War II unfortunately brought this progress to a halt and when this war ended only a few breed-able Field Spaniels were left.
In 1894 the AKC recognized the Field Spaniel, but an American Kennel was destroyed by a fire in 1909 and this led to the breed almost disappearing from the US for a while. It then came again to the US in the 1960s and the Field Spaniel Society of America began in the late 1970s. They are not extremely popular still and in the UK have been labeled as a Vulnerable Native Breed by the Kennel Club. They have less than a hundred being registered each year compared to over 12k Springer Spaniels and over 22k Cocker Spaniels. It is ranked 150th in popularity out of all the dogs registered with the AKC.
The Dog You See Today
Field Spaniels are a medium sized dog, weighing 35 to 50 pounds and standing 16 to 19 inches tall. This means in size it is a bit larger than the Cocker Spaniel and a little smaller than the Springer Spaniel. It has a muscular and strong neck and a tail that is low set and can be docked or natural depending on where you are. Some countries have now made docking illegal. Its dewclaws may be removed. It has a flat or slightly wavy single coat which is long, silky, fine, water-repellant and dense. Common colors are roan, liver, black and it can have tan and white markings. There is feathering on the back of its legs, its chest, belly, rear, and sometimes the bottom part of its tail.
The skull is a little wider at the back than in front and it has a long, narrow and strong muzzle. The nose is large and color depends on its coat color but can be dark brown, light brown or even black. Its eyes are almond shaped, medium in size and brown or dark hazel in color. Its ears are medium length, wide and hang close to its head. They also have feathering and are set just a little under the eyes.
The Inner Field Spaniel
Field Spaniels are great watch dogs as they are alert and will bark to let you know of any intruder. It is not an especially protective breed though so may not act to defend you or the home. They have a good temperament and are docile, intelligent, loyal, cheerful and easygoing. They can be a dog even new owners can bring home. It can have an independent side to it but with the right owners it is affectionate, playful and even charming! It is a very sensitive dog though so needs owners who can be firm but positive and fair not scolding or using raised voices at it, or each other.
This is a breed that needs to hang out with the family and be included in everything not shut outside. It can become neurotic otherwise and very unhappy. When it meets new people it could be reserved but should not be aggressive. Likewise it should not be fearful, or nervous and shy. These would be signs of either poor socialization or poor lines. It is not enthusiastic in its greeting of strangers like the Cocker or Springer but with socialization it learns to accept them. It does not like to be left alone for long periods and can suffer from separation anxiety.
Some Field Spaniels are frequent barkers and some are more occasional so training may be a good idea to stop it on command. Be warned it loves to splash around in puddles and its curious nature means it will happily explore dirty, muddy or wet areas when out and about. It will then track that mess through your home if you are not quick to stop it and clean it off first! It likes to have things to do and have a purpose or job. If you are not using it as a hunting dog find something else for it to do, or it will likely cause some mischief now and then when amusing itself.
Living with a Field Spaniel
What will training look like?
Training a Field Spaniel can vary but because of its mostly docile nature it is moderately easy. It can have an independent streak but the right handling easily deals with that, and it is intelligent and loves to be with you. Stay in control, be firm but use positive training methods. Praise, encourage and motivate it with treats and rewards it successes. Be consistent and patient when needed but be the pack leader. Never give in just this once, or act meek and submissive. Even the docile and easy going Field Spaniel can become temperamental and stubborn when not trained properly.
Training should consist of house breaking, at the least a basic level of obedience training and socialization too. All can be started early, as young as 8 weeks old a puppy is ready and able to learn and adapt. Socialization will mean exposing it gradually to different people, places, sounds, situations and animals so it learns what to expect with them and how to react. It gives it a confidence that makes it a much happier dog and will prevent that caution from turning to something more like suspicion.
How active is the Field Spaniel?
The Field Spaniel is not a breed suited to live in an apartment. It needs a large yard at least or even some land to run on and explore. It is a very active dog breed and needs owners who are also very active themselves so that there are not issues with not wanting to take it out and then having a dog that is destructive and difficult because it is not getting the stimulation it needs. Make sure that any fencing of the yard is well done as it will take off otherwise after scents it finds interesting. Because of that nose it is also important to make sure it is on a leash when out walking, otherwise it will run off. It should have at least two long walks a day, some play time and explore time, and off leash time somewhere safe, either on land or at a dog park. It would also enjoy joining its owners for hikes, jogging, cycling and so on.
Caring for the Field Spaniel
Looking after a Field Spaniel is not going to take a great deal of time but there is some effort involved and there will be a need to visit a professional groomer on occasion. It will shed a moderate amount of hair so there will be hair around your home and you will need to vacuum probably daily. Brushing it regularly can help reduce how much loose hair you have to deal with, and it also keeps the coat looking healthy, prevent mats and remove dirt and debris. Some hair that is straggling may need to be scissored occasionally but for a show dog professional grooming will be needed at least four times a year for dead hair to be plucked out and for hair on the neck, legs and ears to be thinned. Only bathe as needed to avoid drying out its skin.
Brush its teeth at least two or three times a week to look after its teeth and gums and to promote better dog breath. Brush daily if it will allow you to. Its ears will need to be checked for infection signs like selling, redness or a discharge once a week. You should also clean them weekly using cotton balls with a dog ear cleanser or using a warm damp cloth. Never used a cotton bud to insert anything into the ear. Its nails should be trimmed when they get too long if its natural activity does not wear them down. There are blood vessels and nerves in the lower part of a dog’s nail called the quick. When cutting its nails if you are doing it yourself use the right tool and do not cut through there or it will hurt and cause bleeding. If you are unsure have a vet or groomer do it for you.
The amount of food the Field Spaniel needs will likely range between 1½ to 2 cups of a good quality dry dog food. It should be fed to it in at least two meals but how much each dog needs can vary depending on its age, size, metabolism, activity level and build.
How is the Field Spaniel with children and other animals?
Field Spaniels well socialized are good with children, playful but do not like roughhousing too much, affectionate and energetic with them though not as hyper as Cocker’s can be. It is also patient and gentle. It tends to do better with older children because they know not to bee too rough. Make sure you teach children how to touch and play nicely with dogs and things that are not acceptable like tail pulling, and supervise younger children. With other pets it has been raised with it is accepting and can even get along with them. However with birds care should be taken as it will try to grab at its tail feathers so supervision will be needed. Also with socialization it can be fine with other dogs.
What Might Go Wrong?
The Field Spaniel has a life span of 12 to 14 years and is somewhat healthy being prone to some issues such as hip dysplasia, ear infections, hypothyroidism, eye problems, cancer, allergies, Epilepsy and autoimmune hemolytic anemia.
In 35 years of reports covering dog attacks that did bodily harm against people in the US and Canada, there is no mention of the Field Spaniel. It is not a common dog though in North America so that makes it less likely to be involved anyway. It is also a docile breed and is not likely to have aggressive moments. However keep in mind all dogs have the potential to become aggressive given certain conditions, stimulation or stressers. Size might affect how much damage a dog can do but it is not true that small dogs are less likely to attack than large ones. What can have an impact are whether it is in a good home where it is getting the level of attention and activity it needs, along with good socialization and basic training.
Your Pup’s Price Tag
A Field Spaniel puppy can cost as much as $1300 for a pet quality dog, for a top breeder of show dogs you could see that double or even go higher. Finding a decent breeder is not going to be easy in North America so when you find one you are likely to going to have to be put onto a waiting list. Be patient with this part of finding your dog. Getting a dog from a good breeder is far preferable to using pet stores, puppy mills, or backyard breeders. These tend to be ignorant or even neglectful or cruel. Rare purebreds are not commonly found in rescues and shelters though it is possible. If you are willing to take a Field Spaniel mix though that is more likely. A dog from here is going to cost around $50 to $400 and will have medical needs taken care of.
Once you have a dog there are some things it will need, and a vet visit needed to have some tests and procedures done. The former will include items like a carrier, crate, collar and leash and food bowls for about $200. At the vet it will have an exam done, as well as being dewormed, given shots, blood tests, micro chipped and spayed or neutered. This will cost about $270.
Yearly costs need to be factored in if you are thinking of bringing a dog home. For the rest of its life you need to be able to feed it, offer it health care and provide for its needs. A Field Spaniel will cost about $145 a year for a good quality dry dog food and dog treats. Basic health care like flea and tick prevention, shots, check ups and pet insurance is going to be a yearly cost of $460. Then other needs like miscellaneous items, toys, grooming, license and basic training will come to about $530 a year.
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The Field Spaniel is not as popular as its close relatives the Cocker and Springers. However it in fact has a temperament that is a lot steadier, it is still attractive and playful and could make a great family dog. If not being used as a hunting dog though it is really important it gets a lot of exercise or it can be a more difficult dog to deal with. This is a dog that needs lots of attention and company so this not a breed to get if you are not around much. Make sure it is well socialized to avoid it becoming too timid and be warned this breed can have issues with submissive or excitable urination. When happy it is fun, loving, loyal and great to have around.
Featured Image Credit: Pxhere
Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts’ knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.
- The Field Spaniel’s Beginnings
- New Lease on Life
- The Dog You See Today
- The Inner Field Spaniel
- Living with a Field Spaniel
- Caring for the Field Spaniel
- How is the Field Spaniel with children and other animals?
- What Might Go Wrong?
- Your Pup’s Price Tag